Weathered into the craggy coastline of Talofofo Bay are tons of hidden treasures at every turn.
While you’ll have to wade through waters waist- to chest-deep at times, and there’s many an opportunity to slip and slide, on a good day, this hike is a top spot to cross off the list.
The trek along the coastline showcases a variety of small, seaside caves, some with saltwater pools by the oceanfront, and others inland, offering cool shade from the harsh sun.
Near the mouth of the bay lies Paicpouc Cove, which is home to a narrow, murky water channel and a black sand beach (one of the few on Guam). Beyond the cove and after rounding a reef flat, Matåla Beach and its soft, white sandy wonderland welcomes hikers to warm waters.
Note: While rated medium, this hike will require walking through deep water with great potential for falling, and across sharp, jagged limestone rocks. It’s not an ideal excursion for kids or pets, and is recommended for experienced hikers only.
Additionally, look out for weather updates from the National Weather Service at prh.noaa.gov/Guam, or search for them on Facebook at @NWSGuam. Do not hike while hazardous or high surf advisories are issued.
Hike only at low tide on a fair-weathered day. Find out when peak low and high tides come in daily at tide-forecast.com/locations/Guam-Marianas/tides/latest. Plan your Talofofo Bay trek around the lowest point of the day, typically in the afternoon.
Where to start
To start, head to the southern end of the bay (the right side) and find the dirt path that leads to the water.
Carefully begin wading into the shallows along the coastline, heading north in the direction of the first limestone landing in front of you. This is one of two necessary water crossings along the hike.
Note that the water will get deeper, depending on your height, and may tread as high as your waist or chest. Stay close to the shoreline on your right, and anticipate hidden boulders submerged in the murky waters.
Additionally, be forewarned that the muddy ground is another obstacle along the brief 10-minute water trial. Wade across the water slowly, and feel around with your feet for hidden boulders or dips with each step.
Once you reach landfall on the limestone strip, under the shade of tropical leafs, you’ll begin the long reef walk along the coast. Look back every now and then for a unique perspective of Talofofo Bay.
For the next 20 to 30 minutes, you'll curve along the coast, passing a series of small coves, each with vibrant vines draped over limestone walls, and a variety of seaside caves, some dry and some wet. These cool caverns are exciting to explore and swim in!
Along the breathtaking bay walk, natural bridges abound to help you cross over shallow water in the coves. There are times you’ll have to look for handholds in the limestone wall to aid your walk around narrow passages.
Additionally, near to our first destination, there will be one last walk through water. You’ll know you’re there when creeping around the cove is not much of an option. The water here is about chest-deep. Carefully slouch down into the water with assistance and slowly wade across the small cove for only a minute.
Hidden cove holds hidden treasure
One last roundabout skirting a small cove marks the end of the initial journey. Just around the corner, crossing over one last limestone terrace, is the mouth of our first destination, Paicpouc Cove.
Just beyond the waters here, near the mouth of Talofofo Bay lie the remnants of the Aratama Maru, a World War II-era Japanese transport ship that was torpedoed by the U.S. Navy toward the end of the Japanese occupation on Guam in 1944.
Little remains of the sunken vessel today since much of the ship was salvaged after WWII, leaving only its hull and parts of its structure, according to the National Park Service. The ship has also been subject to souvenir diving, and has deteriorated in condition and lost its original resting place due to storms.
Head into the cove and continue along the rocky reef to finish the hike. Cross a shallow estuary near the beach and find the black sand shores of Paicpouc Cove.
The swimming isn’t too great here, so scour the shoreline and check out the magnetic black sand. This natural phenomenon washes downstream from Malojloj’s Asalonso River, and can also be found along the shores of the Talofofo and Inarajan bays, but is most prominent here at Paicpouc.
You might notice the littered beach, which has become an eyesore amid the environment’s exotic beauty. This trash, for the most part, is not illegally dumped, but wades in from around the world’s oceans and flows into the Paicpouc channel.
With the cove checked off your list, you have the option of retracing your footsteps to call it a day, finishing the hike, or you can continue north to Matåla Beach.
Relaxing reef flats, sunbaked beaches
If you choose to continue to Matåla, head north into the limestone jungle along the coast of Paicpouc Cove. With little to no trail, make your own path to the tip of the cove, climbing over limestone walls and walking through shallow water when necessary.
Reaching the rocky headland of northern Talofofo Bay, tread lightly as you traverse a series of scattered limestone boulders with shallow water dips nearby.
In a few minutes, you’ll meet the reef flats of Matåla Point, where waves crash against the coast and shallow streams of saltwater wash onto the land. Carefully make your way across the reef flat, looking out for dips and ditches along the way. You can rest and relax along the reef terrace for a quick refresh as well.
Eventually, you’ll reach a limestone shelf that borders the reef flats and Matåla Beach. Make your way around the shelf and hop onto a beaten path that will lead straight to the white, sandy beach nearby. This isolated, sunbaked beauty is a stunning slice of paradise tucked along a unique part of the island.
Enjoy the welcoming, warm waters, play in the pristine, soft sand and be sun-kissed walking the shimmery shoreline.
When you’ve milked your outdoor adventures in Matåla, and soaked in the natural splendor of Talofofo Bay and Paicpouc Cove, retrace your steps to get back to your car.